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NightFallInc
Level 7

Legality of various content?

Hello, all...

I've been using a Roku for quite some time, now, and own three boxes; I plan to get a streaming stick soon, for travel purposes, as well. I've recently decided to take a stab at developing a channel, and thought I'd start with one of my favorite genres of film - horror. Unfortunately, after having scoured the internet for public domain content, I've come up against what is probably quite a familiar problem to most of you; I've run out of "legal" content for my channel (which at the moment is a private channel).

Having said that, I was wondering whether you all have any tips for me, regarding the issue of procuring good content. Is it legal to post videos that are not in the public domain, or for which you do not own the rights, as long as you aren't charging money to view them? Would I have to keep my channel private, if I wanted to host something like John Carpenter's 'The Thing' without having procured the rights to do so, or would I be able to take the channel public, as long as it remains free to view?

Any help you all can give me would be greatly appreciated. I'm sure there has been quite a bit of discussion of this particular topic, and probably a few related topics as well on this forum, but so far I've been unable to find an exact answer to my questions, and thought I'd ask the veterans of Roku development for some help and insight.

Best wishes to you all, and thank you in advance for your assistance!

NFI
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10 Replies
NightFallInc
Level 7

Re: Legality of various content?

I've been pouring over other posts that dance around this issue, and the general consensus I'm getting is that it is NOT legal to stream content publicly, without proper permission and licensing to do so from the copyright owner of said content, regardless of whether you are charging a fee to access the content. So that question no longer needs answering, but I am still curious as to whether it is alright to stream content to a private channel, which only you yourself would have access to - so that you could watch only your favorite films, etc. on the channel, without having to navigate endless menus on popular paid channels, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

If you own a copy of the media you're streaming, that should cover you for your own private streaming, correct? Also, I would like to hear from anyone who has developed any sort of relationships with copyright holders for major films, etc. What were your terms, and how did you go about securing the rights to stream the copyrighted media? Were there fees associated, and if so, how much (ballpark) money are we talking about? Any advice on securing rights to stream films on a FREE public channel, without going broke in the process, would be MUCH appreciated!

Thanks again for your help!

NFI
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destruk
Level 10

Re: Legality of various content?

Any advice on securing rights to stream films on a FREE public channel, without going broke in the process, would be MUCH appreciated!


If this was feasible, it would have been done already. Most all content owners want to have a constant stream of revenue from their properties. It would be a lot easier for you to get a few friends together and spend time writing, producing original content that you own the rights to. Once you have done that, think about giving it out to the world, for free, on the internet. Would you be able to do that?
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NightFallInc
Level 7

Re: Legality of various content?

Considering the potential for ad-based income, I wouldn't mind posting original content online at no charge to viewers. The only reason I'd even seek ad revenue is to recoup expenses on the project. These big companies have already paid off their expenses ten or twenty-fold, but I get that it's a business, not a charity. Unfortunately, while I'm reasonably creative, I'm not the type to produce content for viewing by the masses - it's just not really in my wheelhouse. That being said, I'm not looking to get everything (or even anything) for free - but I've seen a few people post things about "having a good working relationship" with various copyright holders, which I'm imagining means that they've worked something out with someone, where they're not paying an absurd amount of money to stream their content.

If I could just gather some information from a few people who've pulled this "working relationship" off, I'd at least know what I was up against, in terms of a cost analysis, where I would be able to determine if it would ever be feasible to run a free channel of my own. I've seen some pretty questionable-quality channels in the public channel store, and I sincerely doubt that they've paid much (if anything) for the content they're streaming. A couple of these channels are free, and a couple are paid subscriptions.

There must be some way to at least get a reasonable rate on streaming rights from a few different copyright holders - especially since I'm not looking to make money off of their intellectual property. Anyone had any experience with this? I was curious to begin with, but it's really intriguing me now...
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TheEndless
Level 7

Re: Legality of various content?

"NightFallInc" wrote:
but I am still curious as to whether it is alright to stream content to a private channel, which only you yourself would have access to

Your best bet, in this case, would be to just sideload the channel on any box that wants it. Publishing a channel like this, even privately, is technically in violation of the Roku developer agreement that you agreed to when you created your developer account. So, while you could do it, and probably get away with it, if it was truly limited to just yourself, you'd be walking a thin line.
"NightFallInc" wrote:
There must be some way to at least get a reasonable rate on streaming rights from a few different copyright holders - especially since I'm not looking to make money off of their intellectual property. Anyone had any experience with this? I was curious to begin with, but it's really intriguing me now...

I don't know the answer to this, and I'm no lawyer, but I feel pretty confident in saying that whether you plan to make money off of it or not, has little to no bearing on whether a copyright holder would give you permission to stream it. The content you're looking to stream wasn't produced so that anyone and everyone could stream it free of charge, so there's no reason to believe that charging you a small fee to allow you to do that is likely in any scenario. The only way you'll be able to procure content like that is if you're willing to pay for it... a lot more than the $19.99 you may have paid for the DVD.
My Channels: http://roku.permanence.com - Twitter: @TheEndlessDev
Instant Watch Browser (NetflixIWB), Aquarium Screensaver (AQUARIUM), Clever Clocks Screensaver (CLEVERCLOCKS), iTunes Podcasts (ITPC), My Channels (MYCHANNELS)
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knuckle
Level 7

Re: Legality of various content?

^ sound advice.With the side loading option you keep everything "in house" so to speak -- the moment you publish a channel (even a private channel) you have crossed the line from "tinkerer" to "pirate" in the eyes of the law.Back in my TVRO ( big satellite dish) days piracy was rampant.From a legal standpoint if content providers didn't want one to get these signals they would have to keep them out of that persons yard.Where the infractions took place is the buying/selling of devices or posting plans on how to build a device to decrypt those signals.Same is true with Roku -- if the law doesn't want me to watch content xx keep it off the web -- what I do in my home is my business -- but put up a website to destribute said content or develop a channel to scrape it (even if the channel is 100% free to the user) and you are a pirate.Any developer on this forum will tell you how incredible Roku is -- if it is on the web you can get it on a Roku
ROKU 3 4114AT076252
ROKU 2 LT 16A182002191
ROKU 2 LT #2 16A19K025194
ROKU HD 18D2CP067635
Roku TV 2N002P050587 2WE012050587
ROKU HDMI STICK 5S35CF000124
Roku Express + YU000X236772
all running wireless on a Technicolor C2000T
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destruk
Level 10

Re: Legality of various content?

"NightFallInc" wrote:
Considering the potential for ad-based income, I wouldn't mind posting original content online at no charge to viewers. The only reason I'd even seek ad revenue is to recoup expenses on the project.


There is a difference between "wouldn't mind doing it" to actually doing it. And ad revenue doesn't mean your work is absolutely free to watch. What you want to stream has value, so they deserve to be paid for their valuable content you want to watch and you are screwing them over by breaking the law. There really isn't any gray area. Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount, ABC, all these entities have spent the money, the time, the research, employing people to create something of unique value, and they want to profit as much as possible from that product. Everyone involved has put in years of work into this product, and by you giving it away you are depriving them of their reward, telling them that you consider their product to be worthless. It's not just about recouping the investment cost - it's about funding the 'next' product they want to produce.
When you solve nuclear fusion, AIDS, all forms of cancer, heart disease, or simply spend years making a stupid tv show, and give it away absolutely free no strings attached for eternity to the world for free, then you can come back here and discuss this for an exemption based on your own enormous uncommon 'good will' for the human race - until then you're nothing more than a pathetic childish thief who doesn't understand basic social concepts on property protection.

btw - if you are thinking of putting such a channel into the channel store (private or sideloaded or otherwise), as soon as anyone finds out about it besides yourself, you are still breaking the DMCA even if you own the original copies of blurays/dvds or whatever you are streaming. I'm just curious - where do you draw the line in your world? Sideloading for your own personal use is probably safe to do - as 'nobody will ever know'.
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ACraigo
Level 7

Re: Legality of various content?

... and the feds are so peeved at pirates right now they'll gladly prosecute you - at the drop of a bloody, brain encrusted, horror movie prop hat.

There's a difference between you and pro-pirates. Pro-pirates are nameless, locationless, clandestine operators that spend their lives living under rocks avoiding prison. They are the providers of the illegal content - like the slimy dogs selling crack to your 10 year old under the monkey bars. When the feds catch one of these guys, they have a big party and it's promotions all around.

You, on the other hand, built a Roku channel to carry out your illegal operations, so it's like having a billboard in your yard with a giant, flashing, neon lit arrow pointing right at your house. Barney Fife could find you after a jug of Triple X Busthead and a doobie the size of a mare's leg. Easy pickins.

If streaming 'privately, for personal use' is your goal (not one person reading this thread believes that for a minute - btw) why go to the trouble of building a Roku channel? The Plex server is FREE. You can burn those DVDs and BluRays of that god awful content to your hard drive and stream it to your TV in living, bloody color ALL DAY LONG with the fear of prison completely gone from the equation. Invite your friends, charge admission, nobody cares. I'm not sure, but with Plex Pass, you might even get away with 'cloud storage' and be able to access your junky content remotely.

As knuck says - the minute your stuff hits the internet you advance to Pro-Pirate status and are subject to the dividends Pro-Pirates enjoy - none of them all that good.

Let's say you avoid prison, fines etc... as soon as somebody turns you in for piracy - figure 10 or 15 minutes - you'll get a take down notice ('cause, yes, they know exactly who you are and where to contact you) and you'll be right back to the public domain content that looks like 14.5 yards of Hades. Why put yourself and all you hold dear through that?

If you think you have a chance at becoming rich exploiting exploiter movies - think again. I'd have to take off my shoes and socks off to count the failed Niche Horror channels that are already streaming that sort of content. You and your buds may live for it - but hardly anyone else does. As soon as you start injecting advertising into it for personal gain you'll instantly lose 98% of the already microscopic viewer base you had. Cryptic TV comes to mind and their ONLY redeeming quality is the vintage ads they display, not for profit, but for nostalgia's sake.

And we haven't even started talking about the cost of hosting this illegal content... unless you want to stream 240p (unwatchable) content, you're going to have to find a hosting service with big pipes to the internet - and won't mind hosting illegal, pirated content... good luck with that.
Tony
Roku 2 HD
www.youtube.com/user/TheFishMojo
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silv55
Level 7

Re: Legality of various content?

Hi distrut; you have answered to this poster with the wisest words, and i'd hope that Everybody here and in other forums to join in to this related topic of writing /sharing ilea-gal copy-write content in these Hidden Roku Private Chan;but despite of your wise words it's not what is happening as we speak right now, there are these hidden private Chan on Roku that keep changing name every time the Roku personnel shuts one down but in the next hour there will be same Chan piracy with other name and charging 25 dollars a month for exact same content providers supply for 100 dollars or more,and as far i know I've been investigating this on the web and it's always the same name that changes name by the minute and the main hidden responsible private Chan is Wowtv that later came up with Yawtv or later Matchtv Mag 250tv and so on,so no use to cut one private hidden pirate Chan but give any user the free ability to write a pirate hidden Chan one hour later,it seems they have a web on the web site, and later on they use this scheme by just using E-mail and these pirate forums with the PM ability to communicate with each other selling these Roku private hidden Chan codes, so after they pay the 25 dollars then they receive the code by e-mail and start to watch the best channels that legal providers have,and all this under the umbrella of Roku.

Check out this text last post on Satfix forum today;

******* i just read they changed the wow TV private channel again.....pm me if you need it******


So as you see they continue to sell these private hidden Chan on Roku and soon providers that pay huge amounts of money for the Copy-write owners of content soon will go out of business, since these good intentions on part of Roku on letting users to write there copywriter own Chan indiscriminately,these pirates took good advantage,and since then provider cord cutters have been on thousand,which on the long run put in jeopardy the producing of good content at a reasonable price.
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Roku Employee
Roku Employee

Re: Legality of various content?

"NightFallInc" wrote:
There must be some way to at least get a reasonable rate on streaming rights from a few different copyright holders - especially since I'm not looking to make money off of their intellectual property. Anyone had any experience with this? I was curious to begin with, but it's really intriguing me now...


Just drop into your local film school, or follow indie filmmakers on twitter. There are thousands of them...nay, hundreds of thousands of them. All want to get their work viewed, and ideally make some money on them. A good chunk of those kids go in for the horror genre. So there you go. Sign some lightweight contracts to stream their work in your channel, run ads ever 15 minutes or so, and create a subscription tier with no ads, take whatever cut will keep your servers running and pay the kids something for showing their work.

Otherwise, you an find copyright owners and license holder agencies and license content directly from them, it probably isn't that hard to track them down.

- Joel
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